In this episode about operating with offshore teams, Chris discusses the benefits and trade-offs of operating a business with contracted offshore talent. As the world has shifted into a digital age of nonstop instant gratification, finding the right talent to fulfill business goals has become a challenge. One of the challenges Chris references is fielding a talented demand generation marketing team. A successful team includes paid search, paid social, email marketing, analytics and development members. Because demand generation is an ever-changing and evolving field, he has contracted much of this work from offshore teams. He talks about the importance of investing heavily in the vetting of these teams. Finally, Chris gives key pieces of advice for any business owner who chooses to operate the same way he has. These include establishing a system that focuses on problem-solving, building a proper project management structure, and being a great communicator.
As a digital marketer and entrepreneur, Chris is President and partner of Juhll.com, a full-service digital marketing agency to help clients achieve their business goals as well as founder, operator and investor in Banks.com, a financial online market place. In "Do You Have the Right People?" he talks in more depth about the challenges he faces when having to find resources to manage both businesses.
This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.
Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.
“I grew up a military kid. And, if you were sleeping, you were burning daylight, pilgrim!” (02:19)
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“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of turnover because there’s a lot of folks out there that have a lot of options, and I just think that there’s a lack of loyalty or dedication to really any single thing that you do anymore.” (08:56)
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“If you’re good, you’re getting job offers at least once a week. At least once a week.” (11:04)
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“Paid search, paid social, email marketing, analytics, dev, this shit changes every other year. Actually, it changes a helluva lot faster than that. I’m talking about major, major changes.” (18:17)
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“And, by the way, finding talented offshore labor is really fucking hard because there’s a lot of fakers out there.”(27:35)
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“And ya know what? People need to quit their fucking fire drills. And, if you get better at project management and better at planning, not everything is a fucking fire drill.” (30:40)
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Chris Snyder: If you're good, you're getting job offers at least once a week. At least once a week. That's because I feel like everybody is churning and burning. Churn and burn baby. Get that revenue now.
Speaker 2: Welcome to Snyder Showdown, an original Juhll Agency Production. This is the show for unvarnished conversations about what's really happening in the world of digital advertising, with stories from the trenches about what's working and what's not. With your host, President of Juhll Agency, and Owner of Banks.com, Chris Snyder.
Chris Snyder: What I want to talk about today, I'm working up an email, and we've talked about this on prior shows. The context of what we talked about on prior shows was just doing what you love to do and if you're doing what you love to do, you're kind of always available. You know what I mean?
Chris Snyder: Not always. If you're at your daughter's recital, you're not going to pick up your mobile phone and take a client call. That's silly. That's not what I'm talking about. It's Christmas week, I put in my 10 hours a day, every single day, and for the most part there's a two or three hour gap in my calendar on most days that I've had time to do some different things with my family. Two hours here, two hours there.
Chris Snyder: Today I happen to have a gap. I got up this morning, we had phone calls with our India team. Those phone calls start between 6:30 AM and 7:00 AM. Then I have a phone call with our Operations Manager. She's in London, so we usually do our calls after the India team calls. We have outsourced development and also outsourced analytics in our attempt to continue to drive a really high quality product for our clients, while saving on labor. There are certain things that are best served offshore. But what that means is I have to get up early, and I don't mind it because I grew up a military kid, and if you were sleeping, you were burning daylight, pilgrim. Seriously. Burning daylight. It made you feel bad about it. It was awesome.
Speaker 2: How much time did it take for you to get into a routine with the offshore team?
Chris Snyder: Oh, I did it right away. I did it right away because I know that when you're managing things that are that far away, both from a language standpoint, a time barrier standpoint, and also an expertise standpoint. I'm not an analyst by trade. I'm not a quant, I'm not a developer by trade. So for me, it's super important to get everybody on the same page right away because a lot of the things that I invest in, like this one, they're not proven right away. I literally have to pay our onshore folks, regular folks, whether they're contractors or employees, while I test new teams, and this could take three or four months. You generally hit your margin pretty good when that stuff happens, but you have to believe that what you're doing is the right thing to do and you have to run forward and you have to get better, because times are changing.
Chris Snyder: Anyway, I find these gaps in my day, and today I got upstairs, my kids really wanted me to take them bowling. I had a two hour gap today between 11:00 and 1:00 and so I just told everybody, "Hey, if you're ready at 10:30, we'll go." That way we're not rushed and I can actually enjoy the time I spend with my family. But, while we were driving there I got a text message from a prior client, was a great client, and she had a referral.
Chris Snyder: This particular client, we've worked together on many assignments, both hard assignments, some lucrative, some not, some really, really difficult things. But you know, the power of staying in the game for as long as I've stayed in the game and as long as our agency has existed, you start to get a little bit of that residual effect after you build that network and you prove to people that you have the capability to take that call when times for them might be tough or someone they know might be in a pickle and they know for sure to put themselves forward like that and recommend you as that resource. It just made me really happy today to get that endorsement.
Chris Snyder: I want to read the email that this person said. Of course it's all anonymous. I'll leave it in the people that listen to my podcast that know me and they hear this stuff, they're going to know it's them, and that's fine. That's good. Hopefully it brings a little bit of joy to them because we're all in it to, hopefully, do good work and help people win and have a quality product and have a great reputation and kick ass and try to have a little fun doing it and spend some time with our families. We're all integrated. It's not like, oh fuck, she sent me a note. Now I got to follow up and take care of it. It wasn't that at all.
Chris Snyder: So, I'm driving, I'm in the car and my family, I've got a nine year old daughter and a seven year old son and I put it on ... I ask them to be quiet in the backseat and they always do, because I do this a lot, but they listen to a lot of my business calls too, which is kind of neat. That's a little bit off track, but I just thought I would throw that in there, and they enjoy it. I say, "Hey, do you want to listen to the call and be quiet or do you want daddy to put his ear buds in and just kinda ...?" They're like, no, they want to listen. And they hear everything, which I believe ... that's amazing. I didn't get access. They got they have front row seats to the show. No pun intended.
Chris Snyder: I talked to a prior contact. She said, hey, gave me the whole overview. Here's the name of the company, here's what they're doing. I already talked to this guy about you guys. We've been talking about him trying to solve this problem for a while, so I'm just gonna make the introduction. You guys can take it from there. She made the introduction via email. He sent an email back immediately. So and so, thanks for the intro and then it starts by saying, "Chris, I was at an old company when we engaged your team there and was really impressed." That's how he started his email.
Speaker 2: That's a good start.
Chris Snyder: Are you kidding me? You know what man, it just made the last year my life worth it because, look, we're in a business that, VC's want their money, private equity guys want their money, you got to hit your number, you got to ... and to get an email that starts that way really just ... it just makes me happy that someone out there, even though they're not always saying it, they're like, wow, those guys are impressive, or I was really impressed.
Chris Snyder: I'll go on to say, obviously he left, I substituted an old client name for old company and I'm going to substitute Newco for his new company. But he goes on to say, "Here at Newco, we've had a lot of turnover in the Demand Gen Department." Guess what? Everyone is experiencing tremendous amounts of turnover. There's a lot of distractions out there.
Speaker 2: What do you attribute that to?
Chris Snyder: I think I attribute it to a great economy. It's a buyer's market right now. If you're an employee, or if you're even a contractor, you can pretty much dictate your terms. You can get what you want. We talked a little bit about this on a prior show and I'm going to change my mindset around people dictating to me what they want. I'm a little bit going away from that and we'll ... I'm sure you'll hear about that a little bit on the other show and if there's questions about some of the things that I'm saying, God forbid anybody try to get clarity on my meaning. Times have changed in that department as well. Hopefully everybody understands I'm coming from a good place.
Chris Snyder: At the end of the day, there's a lot of turnover because there's a lot of folks out there that have a lot of options and I just think that there's a lack of loyalty or dedication to really any single thing that you do anymore. It probably started 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, when some of the very large companies, especially the tech companies like IBM ... this was ... I'm talking pre Google. Major tech companies, Oracle, IBM, Novell, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard. There's very large companies that would lay off people in mass.
Chris Snyder: If you think about our grandparents generation, they worked until they were 55 and they lived until they were 75 and they had a nice little thing called a pension. Who the hell has a pension anymore?
Speaker 2: That's old school.
Chris Snyder: That's old school man. Apparently a lot of these companies, in some cases, in some cases, not all cases, they were such poor stewards of the money and the growth and the innovation. Think about Kodak. Think about Bausch + Lomb. Think about ... and the reason why I'm mentioning some of those companies, because I'm from upstate New York and a lot of my relatives worked for those companies and they have unsustainable pension packages.
Chris Snyder: By the way, that doesn't mean that those folks don't deserve it. That means that someone probably should have come up with a way better plan back in the day. And what happened was, when all that trust eroded, I think that now what you get is this 12 to 18 month cycle of non-dedicated, non-loyal, and looking for the next gig before your employer does it to you first maybe.
Chris Snyder: I don't know. I don't know. I have no facts to back that up but I can tell you right now, if you're good, you're getting job offers at least once a week. At least once a week. That's because I feel like everybody is churning and burning. Churn and burn baby. Get that revenue now. Get that revenue now. Grow that company 20%, month over month, now. Or churn, or you're fired.
Chris Snyder: I feel like that's been the mentality for awhile and when you put folks in that situation you churn them and you burn them really fast. And you churn and burn companies really fast. So the staying power is very limited. The people that hold all the cards, the companies that hold all the cards are Google, Facebook, Netflix. Look at these programs, look at these benefits packages. The reason why they have to do that is because they really don't have a choice. Because they've all set the expectation now. This is part of the territory.
Chris Snyder: When you ask me to expand a little bit upon the comment of, we've had a lot of turnover in the Demand Gen Department. First of all, Demand Gen is extremely hard because it's basically sales, and it drives revenue and it feeds sales reps that have to sell stuff, which feeds pipeline, which means company grows. And if they don't grow, it means people get fired. Demand Gen is an extremely difficult job. And that's why we do it. We do it because we're tough enough to do it. We want to do it. And we're good enough to do it.
Chris Snyder: He follows this by saying, "We need some short to medium term help with marketing automation, paid media management and rebuilding the team. And we're also considering-
Speaker 2: Which is all stuff you can help with.
Chris Snyder: Absolutely. Absolutely. I've been doing this shit for a long time, man.
Chris Snyder: "We're also looking to the future to determine whether a long term relationship with an agency might be in our interest." Now look-
Speaker 2: That's music to your ears, isn't it?
Chris Snyder: It's all music to my ears, but here's the ... Look, anyone can say whatever they want, and by the way, I am super appreciative of this opportunity and every opportunity I get because I don't have a very serious Demand Gen Program at our agency. Although I'm implementing one in 2019. I don't have a real serious Demand Gen Program at our agency and a lot of our business comes from referrals. The reason why this business is healthy and thriving is because over the years we've dedicated ourselves to being perfect. We've dedicated ourselves to going the extra mile and doing the right thing and helping folks keep their jobs by bringing the numbers in and ringing the bell. This is going to continue to come around on a referral basis, but having referrals isn't ... you really can't grow beyond a certain point with just referrals.
Chris Snyder: I think the second point I want to make here though is that, looking to determine whether a long term relationship with an agency might be in our interest. I don't know if I have said this on the show, but I'm going to say it right now. I would much rather, much rather, outsource to a reliable partner then try to bring this stuff in house. And when I say stuff, I'm generalizing. Obviously, the stuff that I'm talking about right now is marketing automation, paid SEM, paid search, paid social. Maybe email marketing or email management. These are analytics. One could argue you should have your own in house analytics team, not rely on a partner to do that because you should be good at that, especially if you're churning through thousands of sales and SKUs and leads and ... I could go on forever. But at the end of the day it's about labor. It's not about someone at a company building their own little army because, don't forget, once you build that army, you have to manage it.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Chris Snyder: And guess what? I don't see a lot of folks out there really thinking about the hard cost around that.
Chris Snyder: If you have very serious goals in Demand Gen and you say, "Hey, I'm going to go hire a team to do this." Okay, unemployment rate, lowest it's been since the late sixties. How are you going to find these people? How are you going to find them? Not to mention, do you have any core capabilities in any of these areas that support Demand Gen? Because if you don't, how are you going to even interview the right people? How are you going to do that? Seriously.
Chris Snyder: And I see it all the time. I hear people ... and this is ... by the way, this is what has driven our agency rates down, which I'm actually thankful for and happy about because it's helped us solve a really big problem internally and reinvent a business model that I don't think anyone else can catch us on. Especially the large agencies. No way they're going to catch our cost model. No way.
Chris Snyder: But I'm happy about that because it's not as easy as just saying, hey, we need five or six people on our Demand Gen Team. We need an email marketing person. We need a paid media person. Which, by the way, you don't just hire a paid media person. We need an analyst. That's three. We need someone to manage them. That's four. What else do we ... Oh, we need a content writer. That's five. We need a creative. That's six. I can go down this list. You probably need a minimum of six people on your Demand Gen Team, minimum.
Chris Snyder: Now, look, if you're really smart and you're good at what you do, you could probably get away with three because you're smart enough to know that a few of those folks need to be cross functional, and the same person that only spends about 50% of their time on paid search better Goddamn well learn paid social. You better do it. You better do it. And I want you on both of those. That's what the smart Demand Gen folks will do and they'll figure out a way to get after it that way, and they'll also figure out a way to maybe outsource a little here and there and balance it out.
Speaker 2: So a question there. How important is it to have ... you talked about this team you've got to put together, how important is it to have people who ... that is their genius? That's the one thing that they do and have this league of all stars for this team.
Chris Snyder: I think it's extremely important to have someone in this space that has had a lot of experiences and is a great problem solver and is passionate about what they do and they just can't get this shit out of their mind, morning, noon and night. I think that is way more important than going out and trying to find the number one expert as it relates to paid search.
Speaker 2: Because everybody's looking for that person.
Chris Snyder: Not only that, is that, paid search, paid social, email marketing, analytics, dev, this shit changes every other year. Actually it changes a hell of a lot faster than that. I'm talking about major, major changes. In a way, you don't want the Green Horn right out of college. You don't want that because all you're doing is spending all your energy to train them and they're just going to leave because, clearly, you're not going to pay them the kind of money that they're going to expect right out of college.
Chris Snyder: But after they're trained, now people are telling them, "Oh, you're a paid search person. You're worth triple what Juhll is paying you, so you should just go sign up for someone else." And of course the company that pays them triple, now they're at 90, or they're at 100, or they're at 110. They get in there and what the company realizes is, wait a second, this person really is probably good at paid search because they were at Juhll. Or, they're really good at paid social because they were at Juhll. Or, they really are a good analyst because they're at Juhll. But guess what they don't have? They don't have all of it. They don't have the big picture. And now they're missing their team. Now they're missing their teammates and they're missing the management and the structure. They're missing the process, and they're missing the overall support of the business. That's not just Juhll. I've seen a couple of organizations that are high performance organizations that people have left from because they got poached and they have been unsuccessful for a number of years, outside of that system, outside of that system.
Chris Snyder: Getting back to the question, you need people that are humble. You need people that are smart and can learn. You need people that are good communicators. You need people that are passionate. I think a lot of the times it's difficult for a lot of these companies to find those people because, in some cases, maybe their product's boring.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Chris Snyder: Someone I know really well was at, in my opinion, one of the most cush jobs on the planet, cranking it out, doing a great job. Obviously, we were there too, helping. Our agency was involved. She's like, "It's boring. I don't want to do this anymore." I'm like, "Are you kidding me? This is a great gig. It's a great gig." "Nah, it's just boring." At the end of the day, you don't know what drives people or what motivates people.
Chris Snyder: In getting back to the question, when someone starts to think about, hey, do I in-source this or outsource this? And if I'm outsourcing this, what does that model look like? I'm gonna tell you right now. If you're going to build a Demand Gen Team, and you're going to want all the best of the best and the cream of the crop, first of all, you're going to have to compete for that talent with the bigger companies that might be a little bit more interesting than you. Because we do it all day long. Because we're a digital agency, so we're in the mix on this stuff. You're going to have to compete with their benefits. You're going to have to compete with their stock options. You're going to have to compete with their Freaky Fridays and their Monkey Around Mondays and all the days off. There's all kinds of stuff that comes with wanting the best of the best.
Chris Snyder: In my view, unless you're in a situation where you can plop down a million dollars for labor, a million dollars for labor, for your Demand Gen Team, I think it's in your best interest to give me a half a million and I provide everything, including the management of this team, and we figure out together which pieces you want to start chipping away with in a nice, easy, supportive way by your agency partner. Because I know all good things don't last. I know that. And as much as I would love to have clients for life, that's not the way our world works. I'm okay with it, which is why we have seven, eight, nine, 10 Statements of Work open for one organization, at any given time. Because we chip it away, at a lot of different things, and they know I'm happy to have them hire their $68,000 a year with five years of experience person to sit in that seat. And guess what? I want them to call me. I want them to call people on my team when they have a problem because I want to be there for a long time. Solving all the problems, as a trusted partner, in over communicating about the path. I'm not a big believer in hiring in house.
Chris Snyder: By the way, that is not because I have an agency. By the way. In fact, I'm actually putting my money where my mouth is. We have two, no, we have three offshore teams that I pay over $20,000 a month in labor because I myself don't want to manage those problems. Because I've already done it. My role in all of this is to separate any of the preconceived notions about how we should do it or what we should have. Everybody is different. If you've got a Demand Gen superstar as a Manager and that person knows, as much as I know about it, or is top top of whatever, to built these teams successfully, three or four times before at multiple companies. Okay. Build your team. In the meantime, use us to hit your numbers. But just be clear with me, you're going to go and start looking and this thing might be over in about eight months.
Chris Snyder: That doesn't mean I'm going to give you any less of an effort, because this is our personal brand and this is meaningful to me. Just be clear about what your goals are. And if you're not clear, I can help you with that too. I can ask you all the questions that say, are you sure you want to manage a team of seven or eight digital marketing professionals? Are you sure you want to do that? You might. I certainly don't want to manage a team of developers. No fucking way. And by the way, that has nothing to do with me not liking developers. It has everything to do with me not just ... I'd be bored. I'd be useless. I don't want to do it. I don't want to manage those people.
Speaker 2: That's a full time job.
Chris Snyder: It's a full time job. I don't want to manage a team of copywriters. I don't want to manage a team ... there's just stuff I don't want to do. I wouldn't mind managing a team of business development people. That'd be okay by me. I know how to do that. I've been doing my whole life. It'd be fun. It'd be easy for me and I'd enjoy it. But there's certain things you really have to take a good introspective look at and you got to go, do I really want to do this or did I read a blog and I oversold myself and now I'm here and now I got to build a team and I've never done it, but since all the blogs telling me to do it, that's what I'm going to do. It doesn't make any sense.
Speaker 2: How has that changed how you run your business?
Chris Snyder: In which way? Which experience?
Speaker 2: What's the benefit of running your business that way, because this idea, like you said, you have these offshore teams and you prefer to have someone responsible and someone who is on point to answer to you if anything goes wrong. Right?
Chris Snyder: Got it. Yeah. There's trade-offs. There's trade-offs to having a combination of employees, contractors in specialized firms. And by the way, don't try to do it if you're not good at it and you're not committed to it and you're terrible at project management and you're terrible at communication. Don't try this at home. Seriously.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Chris Snyder: You gotta ... I've been working on this for years, years, not just this year, years we've had contractors at Juhll. Contractors, onshore and offshore, local in Los Angeles, and as far away as India. Years, as long as Upwork has been around. Fiverr. I've tried all of this stuff. I've used 99 designs. I've been poking at this thing for a long time with my own chips, with my own chips. This is house money. Let me tell you, I have a unique mindset when problems happen, I get them solved right away because if they don't, we could lose everything. I'm not just poking at this.
Chris Snyder: First of all, don't do this if you don't have a lot of experience doing it. And don't do this unless you're really, really serious about your strategy and your objective to transform your organization or solve a major problem. For me, it was on two fronts. I wanted to solve the decline in agency rate. It's very simple. You go from a 185 bucks an hour to 125 bucks an hour. Guess what? Something's got to give. Something's got to give. I don't make the rules. I just figure out how to play within the confines. We had to go find talented offshore labor. And by the way, finding talented offshore labor is really fucking hard because there's a lot of fakers out there. There's a lot of fakers out there. In every single country. I won't point anyone out in particular. I've worked with people from every single one of them. From Pakistan to India to Astonia. Dude, I've done it. I've tried them all. I've tried Brazil. I've tried them all. I've tried them all. And they all have their own nuance.
Speaker 2: Do you have a preference when it comes ... because obviously, what I used to hear when I got started is, the Philippines is good as well because they're hard workers and they learn English from early, early on.
Chris Snyder: Yep.
Speaker 2: What's your experience been?
Chris Snyder: My experience has been, you need to really figure out how to vet these folks in a real life, real projects scenario. Getting back to what I said at the beginning, that means that you need to double invest because if you are vetting folks when you're supposed to be getting work done, that's supposed to be high quality, and your vetting, and you don't know the team in India or you don't know the team in the Philippines, you don't know the team in China, and you fail, now you're losing clients. So you need a double invest.
Chris Snyder: Is one country any better than the other? Not in my opinion. Not my opinion. People are people. Some people suck and some people don't. That's it. Some people suck and some people don't. It doesn't matter where you're from. It doesn't matter where you're from. Doesn't matter what side of the tracks you're on.
Chris Snyder: Getting back to, hey, what are the advantages or disadvantages of operating this way? Well, first of all, I'm not suggesting anyone operate this way unless they know what the hell they're doing and they've had a lot of time to practice. I've had about 12 years of practice. We've always been on a shoe string. We've always been bootstrapped. We've always had to problem solve quickly and get to the meat really fast. That's number one. I would say, the second thing you need to be really, really good at if you're going to do this, is project management. You have to have the systems in place. The third thing you have to be good at is you have to be good at communication. You have to be good at accountability. I could probably make a list. I haven't made one, but I should probably make it official and make a list, but that would require me to do more work, which takes time away from the business, and I don't have that time.
Chris Snyder: I can just go forever about all the crap that we've had to deal with in this regard. I manage all of that behind the scenes and they have no idea. Clients have no idea that India takes more holidays than most countries I've seen. That's not a knock. That is a fact. But guess what? The two teams that I have in India, they let me know when they're having those days. We pre-plan in advance, they're on the calendars, and we all have expectations about the work that's going to be done. And you know what? People need to quit their fucking fire drills, and if you get better at project management, better at planning, not everything is a fucking fire drill. I don't even need those guys there during their holidays. They can take their holidays. Please take your holidays because it will make you feel better. Good for you. Take them, take them all. But, when those Jira tickets come across, I want you to put your estimate in there, we'll line up the priorities, and I want you guys to set proper expectations as to when this is going to get done. And don't come back to me and go, "Well, I was on break." "When? It's not on my calendar." "Oh, we forgot to add it." Then you get into the communication thing and the project management thing.
Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to Snyder Showdown. Visit SnyderShowdown.com to see the full show notes for every episode, which include the recap, as well as any links mentioned in the show. And because it's Chris, we'll definitely have a few awesome quotes that you can share. There you'll also be able to sign up for our newsletter so you're notified when new episodes are ready. Tune in next week.